2019 has been a decent year for Michael Smith so far. The St.Helens-based thrower has caught the eye at a number of high-profile events this season and has also managed to reach the final of a handful of televised tournaments.

‘Bully Boy’ has made significant progress in the last twelve months and despite coming incredibly close to a notable success on the PDC circuit, a major title continues to elude him.

Earlier this year, Smith leapfrogged his mentor Gary Anderson in the Order of Merit following a successful spell in late October. His career earnings have recently surpassed the £550,000 mark, although he still trails both Rob Cross and Michael Van Gerwen by a substantial margin.

Tough Start to the Year

It hasn’t been entirely plain sailing this season and the 29-year-old was forced to play through the pain barrier at the beginning of the year. He required emergency surgery on an abscess at the beginning of March and the World Matchplay finalist was quick to pay tribute to the surgeons who acted quickly to prevent the possibility of septicaemia.

Despite this medical setback, Smith has managed to reach three semi-finals in the last twelve months and was incredibly close to completing an unlikely comeback in Blackpool. The north-westerner found himself 9-0 down to Rob Cross in the final of the World Matchplay before rallying to pull the score back to 12-7. At 13-10, Smith was beginning to gain momentum and had the crowd on the edge of their seats at the iconic Winter Gardens. ‘Voltage’ was on the ropes and was starting the look vulnerable, however Smith wasn’t able to see the job through and was forced to settle for yet another runners-up spot.

PDC World Championship

Despite his exploits by the seaside, Smith’s finest achievement arguably arrived at Alexandra Palace at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. He arrived at the North London venue full of confidence despite never managing to get beyond the quarter-final stage of the tournament during each of his previous visits to the historic setting. He began his campaign with a straightforward success over Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp before seeing off the threat of John Henderson in the third round of the competition.

Ryan Searle and Luke Humphries were also swept aside before he put in one of the performances of the tournament to beat Nathan Aspinall 6-3 at the semi-final stage. ‘Bully Boy’ averaged 105 in that game and was visibly delighted to have booked his place in the showpiece event on New Year’s Day.

After another positive year on the circuit, Smith will be hoping to replicate last year’s success when the PDC World Championship gets underway in mid-December. As of November 11th, he is 20/1 with Betway to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy at the beginning of 2020. After his recent performances at the Grand Slam of Darts, many are expecting him to reach the latter stages of the sport’s blue-riband event for the second successive season.

His brilliant autumn continued with an inspired display in Wolverhampton, producing the third-highest average in the history of the tournament. Once again, Nathan Aspinall was the victim of Smith’s deadly accuracy with the St.Helens thrower averaging 113.62 to help secure an eye-catching 5-1 victory at Aldersley Leisure Village. He was just a double four away from recording the highest ever average in the history of the Grand Slam and looked unstoppable in the Black Country. He also notched four 180s and secured a checkout of 64 during his 5-3 victory over Glen Durrant earlier in the tournament.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Other Successes

Despite failing to record a victory in major event, Smith already has ten titles to his name on the PDC Tour. A profitable 2018 saw him secure the Shanghai Masters, one of the UK Open Qualifiers and a Players Championship event in Barnsley. He also reached the final of the World Series of Darts Finals and got through to the final two of the Premier League, despite only making his second appearance in the competition back in February 2018.

Michael Smith can reflect back on a hugely successful and progressive couple of years and he has certainly made a name for himself on the professional circuit. However, his wait for a major success goes on and he’ll be desperately hoping that he can break his duct in front of the television cameras over the coming months. Anyone who witnessed his powerful display in Wolverhampton will surely testify that his first major victory is surely just around the corner.

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Author: Pieter